Women engineers stick together

Growing up in the metro Chicago area, engineering has always been a field that has interested Tamika Taylor, a Central Michigan University mechanical engineer student and the Society of Women Engineers president.

Moving through her degree that she expects to finish in May 2015, her dream job of  working with major airlines, making sure everything and everyone is safe and secure, keeps her motivated. Her involvement in the Society of Women Engineers, a national organization that has a network across college campuses, has created an opportunity for Taylor to find other women pursuing careers in engineering, giving her confidence for the future.

Vice president and Central Michigan senior Brianna Ohlert explains, “I got involved to get experience, get a resume booster, and (to) have the support of other women.”

The purpose of the Society of Women Engineers is to promote unity and success among women in the male dominated field of engineering. There are many benefits to being a member of this organization.

“There are not many women in the [engineering] field, so we have to stick together,” Taylor said.

Kelcey Sherd, secretary of the Society of Women Engineers agrees with Taylor’s assessment.

“Being in engineering as a woman, you are outnumbered,” Sherd said. “It is nice to have others that are in the same situation.”

The organization not only allows networking between women studying engineering, but Taylor receives a helpful heads-up from employers for the members of the Society of Women Engineers.

“Sometimes companies will email our president, Tamika, to tell us about job applications that are about to go live so we know first,” Sherd said.

The best experience Taylor has had with the organization is the opportunity to tutor and mentor younger students. Everyone in the engineering field takes similar, if not the same classes. Every week upperclassmen sit down and help lower level students with the courses they are struggling to understand. Tutoring helps the women learning, but also keeps the tutors refreshed on critical information from previous classes.

Every semester the Society of Women Engineers makes their own RSO day. They visit the introductory level engineering classes and try to reach out to as many women as possible.

The Society of Women Engineers also believes heavily in volunteering. They are one of the many student organizations that want to give back to the community. In the past they have worked with the Humane Society and smaller animal shelters. During the spring semester, the organization hopes to volunteer at the Isabella Soup Kitchen.

Since the Society of Women Engineers is a national organization, there are many conferences for members to attend. One goal Taylor wants to accomplish is to attend some of these conferences and increase the direct network for the registered student organization here at Central Michigan.

One of the Society of Women Engineers’ largest events is the Cardboard Boat Race, which takes place the afternoon of Homecoming in the Rose Ponds. Each group entering the race has two weeks to design and construct a boat made out of cardboard that is able to successfully cross the pond. The first team to cross the pond wins. By entering the Cardboard Boat Race annually, the women engineers get a chance to show that they can be just as, if not more, successful than their male peers.

“This group helps support women that are in a technical field,” Ohlert said. “[These women] face struggles in a male dominant field, so it’s nice to have each other.”

The Society of Women Engineers provides a place for women of the engineering field to lean on one another and have someone to look up to for help. With about 20 members of the organization at Central, they hope to continue to grow as the field does.

If interested in getting involved or joining Central Michigan’s Society of Women Engineers, find them on OrgSync or email Tamika Taylor at taylo5ta@cmich.edu.